My vegan beliefs are the number one thing I am most regularly challenged on (feminism comes in at a close second). I am an ethical vegan, and it is something I believe in strongly. I do not believe that my life is worth more than any other being on this planet, I do not believe that one species is superior to another, I do not believe that animals should live a life of pain and torture and then die a cruel death, so that humans can indulge in five minutes of satisfaction that quite simply, we can do without. I can’t understand the dedication and love of a dog or cat, while choosing to eat a calf, cow, lamb, chicken, fish, or pig. I do not understand how there is a loud universal uproar to the shooting of Cecil the Lion or Harambe the Gorilla (which were obviously horrific acts), while the slaughtering of millions of chickens, cows, pigs, fish, lambs, turkeys and other animals happens each day largely unopposed.
As a vegan I choose not to eat any animal, or animal product. I do not use or wear anything that is an animal by-product and I will not use anything that has been tested on animals. I am against the exploitation of animals, and choose to not participate in (in fact I violently oppose) the capitalist culture that fuels the factory farm industry. Prior to making the switch to veganism, I was a vegetarian for a number of years. I have always been uncomfortable with the thought of eating other animals and eventually begun to feel hypocritical about other forms of animal consumption that I was partaking in. How was it okay for me to abstain from the meat industry but still participate in industries such as the dairy industry where there is so much cruelty and suffering? I knew that I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore, in any form.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture that normalises and thrives off animal agriculture, regardless of the amount of cruelty this inflicts, or how much it destroys the environment (animal agriculture is the number one form of environmental degradation on this planet). Just think, by being a vegan I have saved the lives of over 120 animals (The Vegan Society, 2016) and significantly lowered my contribution towards environmental degradation. Did you know that “to produce one pound of animal protein vs. one pound of soy protein, it takes about 12 times as much land, 13 times as much fossil fuel, and 15 times as much water” (Choose Veg, 2016)?
With respect to my own research, I am fascinated by critical animal studies and its application to children’s literature, such as the work done by Matthew Cole and Kate Stewart in Our Children and Other Animals: The Cultural Construction of Human-Animal Relations in Childhood, and the questions surrounding humans, and non-human animals. Perhaps most importantly, I am particularly interested in vegetarian-feminist critical theory, such as The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams (please read this book) and ecofeminist approaches to veganism, such as the word of scholar Greta Gaard.
In my personal life, I cook a lot of vegan food for my friends and family. I love to experiment with food, I find it calming to cook and create recipes that challenge the common conception of what should be eaten. I love exploring all of the vegan options available in this beautiful city of Melbourne, and love that I am surrounded by friends who are vegetarian or vegan. There are a vast number of documentaries to watch such as Cowspiracy, Earthlings, and Forks over Knives. There are people to talk to, communities to join, and cruelty free food to make (check out my favourite blog: Minimalist Baker ).
To conclude, Jonathan Safran Foer writes in his wonderful novel Eating Animals, “Not responding is a response – we are equally responsible for what we don’t do” so my question to you is – what will you do?
Safran Foer, J 2009, Eating Animals, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, Massachusetts.